Ranking this season’s NBA tribute videos: Who deserved them most?
Tribute videos are a natural byproduct of sports that celebrate individual athletic achievement. No league does a better job of focusing on specific players than the NBA, where one player can quickly make or break a franchise.
In an ideal world, tribute videos would be reserved for fan-favorite stars who had to leave teams for reasons beyond the control of both sides. That’s not always the case, however, and over the past couple seasons the bar to recognize players for their time with a team has only gotten lower.
The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, were coming apart at the seams and willing to sell every one of their veterans for parts. The first-round pick the Nets sent Portland in the trade for Wallace was only top-three protected, reportedly because there were only three players New Jersey valued at the top of the draft. The pick landed at No. 6 in 2012, and Portland drafted Damian Lillard, which completely turned around their fortunes as a franchise.
That summer, the Nets compounded their mistake by re-signing Wallace to a four-year, $40 million contract that almost immediately became one of the worst in the league as Wallace’s production fell off a cliff. They also re-signed Williams to a five-year, $100 million max deal as his play started to decline. But as bad as the repercussions were for the Nets’ trade with Portland, it was nothing compared to what they did a year later.
Aside from that, there are also questions about handing over a lucrative contract to a soon-to-be 30-year-old who appears to be entering a decline after a decade in the league. It’s unlikely Jordan and the Clippers will quickly come to an agreement on his value to the team or the terms of a new deal if Jordan is tweeting emojis to dispute the fact that there was an extension on the table in the first place.
What happens next? That’s the big question in LA, and it’s difficult to offer a definitive answer. But as long as Jordan and the Clippers’ front office are living under the same roof, it’s definitely going to be a little bit uncomfortable.
The most straightforward way to deploy that cap space would be on free agents, but one benefit of the Lakers’ new-look books is that there would not be urgency. Numerous franchises, including the Lakers, have gotten into trouble over the last few offseasons because their space burned a hole in their pockets.